My role as a history instructor is not to foster in my students an appreciation for the subject I teach or to assess whether or not they have memorized a series of subjectively important events, institutions, or figures that have directed the course of history or history learning. Instead, I prefer to guide students in learning how and why the course of history has been directed in the ways that it has and in discovering why that is meaningful to them. Ultimately, however, my main goal as a facilitator of learning in higher education is to provide students with the tools necessary to developing critical thinking skills that can be utilized in the real world.
My teaching philosophy is grounded in my belief that the history classroom serves as a highly effective laboratory for developing critical thinking skills. In practice, this philosophy is reflected in student-centered and activity-based class time where students receive hands-on training in “what historians do,” which, among other things, includes appreciating the complexities of historical events and their causes and effects. This is accomplished through group or individual exercises in analyzing primary sources, weighing their place in historical context, and relating the overall significance of what the past conveys. I believe that the ability to analyze, contextualize, and to make determinations about complex issues are transferrable skills that can help to guide students in making meaningful decisions in their futures.
My pedagogy is guided by two important principles: technological literacy and inclusion. I understand that the twenty-first-century student population is largely familiar with technology on a social and personal level, and I am committed to increasing their technological literacy for their academic and professional careers also. Through regular group assignments and the framing of diverse historical perspectives within larger existential inquiry, my students work together to develop successful strategies of communication by which they can both learn and assert that their voices matter regardless of their background or identity.